Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

By order of the Royal Crown: Keep Calm and Carry On. Though we may forget, or rediscover their historical context, not all wartime slogans lose their weight of truthfulness even after blackout curtains are raised and air-raid sirens wind down. After all, loose lips still sink ships. And the Queen's message remains good advice for citizens, soldiers and, as it was in my case on Sunday, pastors.

As the prayers of the church were about to begin, I noticed some movement in the middle of the nave. Now, this is not entirely uncommon. We have the ushers bringing the offerings up and the elder assisting with communion behind them and frequent pit-stop parishioners off to the restroom and so forth. However, this was different. There was a man with a phone on his ear, a woman slumped over and several concerned brothers and sisters in Christ attending to a moment of need. It was exactly that. One of our dear members had passed out. Medically speaking, I will not get into much more detail than that. And before I knew it, 911 had been called, the ushers and I had discussed what to do with the congregation and the whole thing happened rather rapidly whilst many thoughts poured through my head: what if she needs a defibrillator? do we have one? are the paramedics here yet? what about all these people? should they stay or should they go? Lord, have mercy. Keep calm and carry on. Lord have mercy. Anyhow, you get the point.

There are some things seminary never prepares you for. On the other hand, if men were supposed to stay at seminary until they learned everything there was to know and learn about being a pastor - doctrinally and practically speaking - well then, no one would ever leave the seminary and actually become a pastor. There is still something to be said for Walther's famous remark: "it is the highest art and must be learned by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience. While he said this about properly handling the Word of Truth (i.e. Law and Gospel) it could also, indeed I am saying that it does, apply to the unique vocation of the Office of the Ministry as an entire, organic whole (let the reader understand: not to be confused with hipsters, free-range chickens, agricultural obsessions and the like).

And so while the Lord of the Church was working in, with and under a rather nervous pastor He was also working in, with and under the firemen and paramedics who are trained to keep calm and carry on so that when they enter into burning buildings or horrific car wrecks or churches in the middle of Divine Services, they can perform their duty. I know they were just doing their job. And for that we thank them. These noble masks of God. For God does not work in mysterious ways, but hidden ones. Hidden beneath navy blue uniforms and work-worn, grungy-yellow fireman's jackets in order to bring care and mercy to those in need. Thank God for His faithful masks, wherever they appear: in pulpits or in pews, in pastors or in paramedics, in people everywhere, called by God to keep calm and carry on. Be who you are. Be who God has called you to be. Live in your vocations. This is how our Lord works miracles today, by his own chosen instruments .

So, pastors or parishioners, when and if you're ever faced with a similar situation, remember the Queen's words: Keep Calm and Carry On. But more importantly, remember the words of the King, our suffering, saving, serving King: Given and Shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.

Our Lord was busy this Sunday morning, as He is every Sunday and every day of the week. In fact, He's busy serving His church always; He lives to serve her with his life-blood. In, with and under the work of God's faithful masks our dear sister in Christ was taken to the hospital, tested and sent home, safe and sound all while under the care of our Great Physician. Meanwhile, the congregation was able to keep calm and carry on in the Divine Service where our Lord comes to calm our fear and trepidation - yes even to forgive and save - with His own body and blood. Yes, Lord have mercy. And how he does!

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